The Role of Reputation in International Partnerships: 2018/19


To what extent is reputation considered in international partnerships?


There is evidence to show that universities are taking a more strategic approach to their international partnerships, but to what extent is reputation included in these strategies? Who is responsible within institutions for the development and promotion of partnerships? Research undertaken by the EAIE found that institutions where multiple offices are involved in the process report a higher proportion of active strategic partnerships, but what are the keys to successful working relationships amongst these various internal stakeholders? How effectively are universities using international partnerships to enhance their institutional brand and global profile and how prepared are they for any negative reputational changes their partners might encounter?

The role of reputation in international partnerships is the topic of our 2018/19 annual research project. In addition to seeking the answers to the above questions we hope to develop a checklist/toolkit for evaluating the reputational impact of potential and existing partnerships. There will also be a series of case studies and best practice examples to complement the research findings.

Please contact W100 Research Manager, Lisa Bould, at l.bould@theworld100.com if you would like to discuss this project or any other W100 research.

Survey of Directors of Communications, Marketing and International/Global Affairs offices at world-class universities around the globe. 

A survey of directors of communications/marketing and international/global affairs at world-leading universities will form part of the methodology for our 2018/19 research study investigating the role of reputation in international partnerships.

The survey will open spring 2019, closing for analysis over the summer with the project findings reported in September. Highlights will be presented at our annual conference in Manchester and a summary of the survey findings will be available to all who contribute to the project. The full research findings will be exclusively available to members of the World 100 Reputation Network.

Details of what the survey will explore is available in the expandable sections below.

PART 1: RESPONSIBILITY FOR INTERNATIONAL PARTNERSHIPS

This section explores where responsibility lies for the development and promotion of international partnerships – the offices and individuals within those. We also gather an understanding of the extent to which the individuals completing the survey are personally involved and the extent to which communications leads have a good knowledge and understanding of international partnerships, and the extent to which international directors feel they have a good grasp of reputation management.

PART 2: REPUTATION AND PARTNER APPEAL

Here we look at the extent to which institutional reputation has an impact on the university’s appeal as an international partner, both to other universities and other organisations such as NGOs and industry. Respondents are asked to consider whether there are any specific types of partnerships where reputation might have a more clearly defined role or heightened importance.

PART 3: THE IMPORTANCE OF REPUTATION WHEN DEVELOPING NEW PARTNERSHIPS

Answers to questions in this section will allow us to plot current practice against the ideal in terms of how integral reputational issues are to decision making. It also explores what might be the most critical reputation-related factors to consider when forming new international partnerships.

PART 4: RANKINGS

For international partnerships with other universities, this section investigates how important world and domestic ranks of potential partners are and whether decision makers have a strategy to only consider partners of equal or higher rank. In the case of non-HEI potential partners, we ask, in the absence of rankings, how is a potential partner’s reputation assessed?

PART 5: USING PARTNERSHIPS TO BUILD GLOBAL PROFILE

This section asks staff to reflect on how well their university capitalises on existing international partnerships, and involvement in international networks and consortia, to build the global profile of the institution, as well as any barriers and challenges they might be facing that are preventing them from doing this well. Those who feel they are already doing this effectively are invited to provide examples.

PART 6: IDENTIFYING INTERNATIONAL PARTNERSHIPS WITH THE GREATEST POTENTIAL FOR REPUTATIONAL IMPACT

With a potentially very large number of partnerships across institutions at various levels, how do communicators identify those which have the most brand value? We explore the extent to which this is a strategically planned and executed activity and approaches to doing this at institutional, faculty and departmental levels.

PART 7: INDICTORS OF REPUTATIONAL VALUE

Expanding on the previous section, we ask, what are the indicators which directors would look for in an international partnership that relate to positive reputational value for the institution and which of these are most crucial? This section also considers whether these indicators might have a greater prominence or relevance at different lifecycle stages of a partnership.

PART 8: CHECKLISTS

We are aware that some institutions have developed checklists for the development of partnerships, but do these include markers for reputation? Do these markers relate to the reputation of the partner, the impact of the partnership on their own reputation or both? We are seeking to gather examples of such checklists to help create a comprehensive list of markers that might inform a reputational checklist for international partnerships as one of the key outputs of this research study.

PART 9: MEASURING SUCCESS AND ASSESSING BRAND VALUE

Here we look at the extent to which universities measure the success of international partnerships, how strategic they are and their approaches. Is it possible to measure the impact (positive or negative) of partnerships on brand value? Have universities tried to do this, and if so, how?

PART 10: THE IMPACT OF NEGATIVE CHANGES TO REPUTATION

This section explores whether universities monitor the reputations of their international partners once partnerships have been established, how they do this and who is responsible? Directors are asked to consider the extent to which negative changes to a partner’s reputation would impact the reputation of their own institution and how prepared they are for such events. Respondents are invited to provide specific examples of how they have dealt with negative reputational changes of an international partner.

PART 11: COLLABORATION BETWEEN COMMUNICATIONS AND INTERNATIONAL / GLOBAL AFFAIRS

EAIE research finds that institutions where multiple offices are involved in the process report a higher proportion of active strategic partnerships. This section investigates the current state of working relationships between communications and international, asking those who report an effective relationship to expand on what contributes to that, and conversely, asking those who report a poor relationship to consider what barriers and challenges they are facing. We also explore the distribution of communication and international related skills, looking at whether communications teams have staff with international roles and where international teams have communicators on staff. Finally, in this section we ask directors of communications to consider the extent to which their team is currently involved in the promotion of international partnerships, how involved they would like to be and how they think they could add value. Comparatively, directors of international are asked they extent to which they currently feel supported by communications, how involved they would like the communications team to be and in what ways.

PART 12: IDENTIFYING STRATEGIC PARTNERS

Have universities undertaken activities to identify key strategic international partners? Are they considering doing so? What would be the value? These are the questions explored in this section.

PART 13: COMMUNICATIONS STRATEGIES

As the final section of the survey, we investigate whether universities have an international communications strategy and whether international partnerships are (effectively) included in that.

Case Studies

The survey findings will be complemented by a series of case studies showcasing best practice at universities that have successfully leveraged the reputational value of international partnerships.

If you would like to suggest a possible case study, please contact W100 Research Manager, Lisa Bould, at l.bould@theworld100.com.